What kind of book starts with a mysterious antiquated bookstore before transforming into Google employees creating code-cracking algorithms to uncover the secret of immortality? Welcome to “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” by Robin Sloan.
Clay Jannon went from life as a web designer to unemployed during a recession. Searching for any job, he finds himself working the late shift of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after only a few days working under the harmless Mr. Penumbra, Clay starts noticing how odd the store really is. The customers are few, appear seemingly eccentric, and only check out old tomes from dusty shelves towering far above the store’s floor. Clay’s curiosity leads him to form a team of helpers, including his Google-centric girlfriend and nerd-turned-success best friend in cracking the mysteries of his employer, and what he finds creates twists and turns in the plot that no one can see coming. I would love to live in this bookstore, and I invite you to come visit.
This book was a 2013 Alex Award Winner. For those unfamiliar with the award, the Alex Awards are given each year to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. This particular book might be a little mature for 12 or 13 year olds, but I’m comfortable recommending it to anyone of high school age. And for those of you intrigued by the Alex Awards, descriptions of the 2014 winners can be found here.
Next month, in celebration of this year’s current summer reading theme of science, we’ll be focusing on the science of superheroes with several graphic novel reviews.